Melanie Ford is a PhD candidate in the department of anthropology at Rice University. Her dissertation research is focused on architectural interventions in the ravines (los barrancos) that compose nearly half of Guatemala City’s terrain. Interested in the relationship between form, environment, and design, Melanie researches moments of encounter between ravine residents, urban planners, and architects to understand how they negotiate designs for a more socially and environmentally conscious urban future. Noting how “good design” is not just a concept solely reserved for the elite professional, her research also asks how residents of the ravines, too, are contributors that counter, implement, or negotiate ravine plans as the movement of urban ecological design sweeps and renovates Guatemala City. Her research aims to strengthen insight into how Guatemala City attempts to reckon and ameliorate social and environmental issues that result from the instability, marginality, and violence of the 20th century.
At Rice University, Mel is a co-coordinator of the Ethnography Studio
with Katie Ulrich and Dr. Andrea Ballestero, as well as a predoctoral fellow at the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS
) at Rice University. Before attending Rice, she received a B.S. in Anthropology and a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of California, Riverside.